It's always a pleasure to speak with Joe Lynn Turner, an authentic artist who's career spans over 45 years and still remains one of rock & roll’s most distinctive, soulful & expressive vocalists. Recently he surprised us not only with his brand new solo album titled "Belly Of The Beast", produced by Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain) but also with his new image revealing his own truth.
Read below his answers to our questions regarding his new album, his total makeover not only physically but also musically - as with "Belly Of The Beast", one can hear a more aggressive and metal JLT, and of course his future plans and thoughts.
Order/Stream"Belly Of The Beast" : https://lnk.to/JoeLynnTurner
RockOverdose: First of all congratulations on your new album! It was really a huge surprise to finally hear your voice in different way, closer to metal! How did you decide to take such a different path in your career after serving hard and classic rock for so many years?
JOE LYNN TURNER: Thank you, I really appreciate it! I believe that an artist MUST change! If an artist doesn't change becomes repetitive, repeats himself and that can be very dangerous not only for the artist but again for the fans! I think sometimes the fans want you to remain the same but if you're a true artist I think this is death!
So, I really needed to change and make this album I've always wanted to make. I wanted to sing something different and be more artistic. Being artistic means that you have to show the reality of the world around you because art is a reflection of life. So, that's why I decided to go in an other direction.
RockOverdose: How was your cooperation with Peter Tägtgren? Was it easy for you to adapt to his ideas and how it all started?
JOE LYNN TURNER: Peter and I had similar thoughts and feelings, and we decided that it would be a good idea to make a melodic modern metal record. He's coming from metal, I'm coming from melodic rock and we've been both carefull to stay right in the middle and build a bridge between these two genres and I think we accomplished that purpose!
No it was not difficult at all for me to adapt because I have the experience, the skills and talent that it took to push things forward. I love what Peter did, he's absolutely an amazing writer, producer, musician and we got on great! When we're writing the songs we knew we really had something fresh and actually quite new, especially for me!
So, that's how it all started and it was easy for me to adapt. In fact, that's the word Peter used in one of his interviews when they asked him how was the JLT album and he said it's very easy cause he just adapts his voice! And that's exactly what I do!
RockOverdose: The content of the lyrics is definitely influenced by recent world events over the last couple of years, as well as the breakdown in society etc. During those tough moments did you ever feel afraid or have you ever felt afraid in the past during similar tough times? How did you react?
JOE LYNN TURNER: Yes, these are very difficult times and there have been difficult times in the past but not so as today. Today in the world events there's an absolutely breakdown in society, there’s a breakdown in morality, in spirituality! I only feel afraid for the children, for my children and all the children, because what’s there’s going to be left for them?
And I believe and also was afraid of, that humanity was not going to wake up fast enough. Where this governments will take our dignity, our integrities, our freedoms, our humanities away from us. And now it seems that the tide is changing and I certainly hope that “Belly Of The Beast” that is geopolitical in many ways and very personal, can absolutely change some peoples mind and wake some people up.
“Belly Of The Beast” is a record that is made to shape and let people see from a different perspective, so that maybe they realize that they need to rise up and fight for freedom.
RockOverdose: Of course there would be some people that won’t like or can’t relate with this new change of yours in terms of music orientation. How do you answer on these comments? Have you ever faced negative comments in the past about your music choices or your voice, your performance and how do you handle them?
JOE LYNN TURNER: There would always be negative criticism. I have been taking criticism all my life. I believe most people are afraid of criticism, however if it’s healthy criticism you can use that to actually enhance your skills, your talents, your performance. If it’s negative criticism, just because they want to be what we call nowdays “a hater”, I have to cash that criticism aside. Because if it’s just mean and hateful there’s no use in that criticism and that particular person must have a miserable life that he needs to say such things.
Yes! I’ve had criticism in my whole life, about my appearance, about my music, my performance, about my life in general but it never bothered me that much because here I am, 71 years old and still taking major criticism. Not everyone is going to like “Belly Of The Beast” , I may lose some of my old fans but I really believe I would gain even more fans because I spoke the truth, I came out, I exposed myself, I changed my image, I opened up!
Everything is on the line here and you cannot deny that. So, let them criticize a person who’s been courageous, creative and artistic. I have no doubt in my whole mind, that’s who I am and what I’ve been. So negative criticism is unconstructive, it’s from people who really can’t do it, so they are for to criticize whatever they can’t do.
Personally I tick my hat and give applause to anyone who wants to try to do whatever they really love in life and my only criticism if I had any would be a positive criticism that my help them in their direction or in their skill, their performance in some way. Because then it’s supportive, this is what I call clean criticism. So that’s how I deal with it.
Sure there was some criticism in the past that some people would say and I really disagree with it, I don’t get angry over it, I might have been a little bit angry at that time but now I just look at it and say no this is not good criticism. So there’s positive and there’s negative criticism and you have to know how to separate them both and that’s how I take it.
RockOverdose: Was it difficult for you to maintain your trademark image for so long? Did you felt pressure from the music industry/labels etc? What changed inside you and you finally expressed yourself? Was it a music industry pressure thing or else, that took you so long to do this change?
JOE LYNN TURNER: Yeah, it was difficult with my trademark image but this is basically who the industry was at that time. You know, people were considering that in rock n’ roll you have to got the hair and the costume and all these. So sure I had to be part of that “theater” as we would call it, you do feel pressure for doing it from the industry and the labels, but at the same time you have to be yourself.
I’m at an age and at a point in my career that I must express myself, my true self. My authentic self! So it was time for me to make that change. I also needed to feel emotionally and psychologically comfortable with my image change and with my music change. The whole package! It’s really a major transformation!
So now I’m at the point where I don’t feel I’ve anything to prove. I’m 71 years old, I have long history behind me, I’ve done some very outstanding things and I really believe that now was the time to absolutely express myself this way and I feel this turned out for the better. 100% for the better!
And again the only reason why is because I feel that the times have changed and the people are bit more accepting and always looking for the truth now. I really believe that. There’re more people looking for the truth than those who believe in lies. So coming out and being truthful of everything, yes I’m taking a challenge, I’m going to lose some people but also I’m going to gain some. Now was the time for truth.
RockOverdose: Do you follow the news of the bands you’ve played in the past? e.g. Rainbow, Deep Purple etc Are you aware of how they have evolved and what’s your opinion on their choices?
JOE LYNN TURNER: Yes I do follow the bands I played with in the past. I wouldn’t say religiously but I do follow them and check in what Rainbow, Deep Purple, Malmsteen is doing, as much as I check all new bands and whatever in general. My opinion on their choices? Well, look, everyone is entitled from choices; some are good some are bad.
I’ve already voiced my opinion on many things, I’ve never been short of courage to do that, so you guys already know how I feel about certain things and I will repeat that people have the right to chose whatever they want, whether I think is good or bad, it’s not going to make them change their minds and my criticism is really not necessary. But when I’m asked for my opinion I certainly give it. That’s all I can say about that.
RockOverdose: It seems that you are experiencing a new youth; a brand new era begins for you after so many years of being the man we love and support. I’m sure you feel the same and you have much more to give for sure. What are your future plans? Any plans to perform 'Belly of the Beast' live? We’d love to hear you again on more extreme projects like this!
JOE LYNN TURNER: Thank you for this question! I am experiencing a new youth! It’s kind of a second childhood, a brand new era is beginning for me, a transformation is beginning for me and I hope God grants me with health and longevity and be able to do more projects like this or different.
Because I feel that as an artist I must keep evolving, I must keep transforming, keep changing. I can say that I’ve got a lot more to give and as far as the future I really hope that the world will straighten out a lot because otherwise next year’s we’re going to have similar problems as did with the pandemic, were money is short for the fans to go to the shows, the promoters are losing money, they can’t afford the venues and the insurances, there’s lot of insecurity I hear this from a lot of famous friends from around the world lately.
So, I’m hoping that we are in a much better place by next year because .. YES I plan to take out a band and do “Belly Of The Beast” and only “Belly Of The Beast”! I don’t think I’ll be singing “I Surrender” anymore!
Once I start, I’m not going to stop with the new stuff! That’s it! I will fill in the rest of the set, because “Belly Of The Beast” is about 50minutes , with songs that are similar from my solo career. Songs like “Blood Money”, “Battle On”, “Eyes Of Fire” from Rainbow and things like that. The whole thing…I will heavy them up, metal them up and give a great show. So, that’s my plans and I hope we can all pray for a better world for next year 2023.
RockOverdose: Thank you very much for your time to answer our questions! It’s always a pleasure to meet and speak with you! We have the greatest memories from your visits to Greece! Take care! All the Best!
JOE LYNN TURNER: Thank you guys! Thank you very much for your interest and your time. I hope to see you out on the road soon. Thank you for your love and support. Greece is a country I love … you know “Una faccia, una razza”, by the way my wine “King Of Dreams” is from Greece, remember that? So grab a bottle and salut! I hope everything is “Ola Kala” and hope to see you soon!
For Rock Overdose:
Questions/Edit: Vivi Zapantiotou